How do you make money when everything is going free?

The general theme of Nicholas Lovell’s book ‘The Curve’, which I finished reading during my finals, is how do we make a living in industries that the World Wide Web has come to effect. Lovell discusses many different industry’s including the music industry (my main focus point of this review), publishers, photography, charities, newspapers, retail, transport and fashion. The book proposes that the answer to all our questions is ‘The Curve’, the concept being to embrace giving away something for free, to stimulate interest and cultivate communities. The Curve accentuates the importance of building relationships with your audience, whom in turn will want more of what they love, and pay varying prices to receive it.

In relation to the music industry, Lovell discusses a variety of case studies including Lady Gaga, and Nine Inch Nails. Lady Gaga (pages 26-30) Lovell states ‘a is a twenty-first century star’. Instantly that made me ask the question, what is a twenty-first century star, of which he answers in the following pages. Though Lady Gaga releases her records through the traditional manor, of utilising a record label (Interscope Records), this only makes up less than a quarter of her income. Gaga uses her direct connections with her fans, to help make up the remaining three quarters of her income. Her huge population of fans, in May 2013 she had 37,520,337 Twitter followers, now (17.08.15) she has 49,800,000 followers. Along with direct communication with her fans through Twitter, she utilises other social media platforms such as YouTube to make her music free to preview online, proving that this wont hurt her CD sales, the example given in The Curve is ‘Bad Romance’, which still made it to the second most purchased single in the world in 2010, selling over 9.7 million copies in that year.

However, though Lady Gaga sells a phenomenal amount of music, this still only makes up 24% of her income, with 7% from endorsements and sponsorship, and 69% of her income coming from touring and merchandise. Lovell, shows us in this case study, that Lady Gaga utilises the Web to aid in her sale of touring and merchandise. Through using social media she creates a direct link with her fans, offering them her music for free. She then utilises the curve encouraging individuals to spend varying amounts on her brand, be it through T-Shirts, concert tickets, tracks, CD’s. She aims to have a smaller collection of ‘die hard fans’, who will attend every single one of her concerts, something she has successfully achieved.

Through the case study of Lady Gaga, we can see how musicians can utilise the World Wide Web to create an income. Musicians need to adapt to the web, and utilise the venues that it provides. Through creating a direct line of communication with your fans you can introduce them to your entire brand. Then by offering a variety of pricing platforms, your audience can choose how much they wish to spend, choosing the experience which is worth most to them. Lovell presents us with a suggested platform for utilising the world wide web, this book enables us to ask questions about the variety of industries that can be effected, and therefore how we can utilise online commerce.

Check out Nicholas Lovell’s Web Page for The Curve, which gives snippets of the book: http://www.thecurveonline.com/

Also get the book from amazon: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/0670923214

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